A new block of court hearings in the MH-17 case in the Netherlands began on 31 August. The first session was supposed to last until September 11th. However, the meeting lasted only one day.
The judge began the hearing by repeating key points from the preliminary hearing.
The main strategy of the defenders boils down to the fact that the representatives of the accused have many complaints about the quality of the investigation, so it is necessary to conduct the investigation again: to re-examine all the witnesses, to carry out all the examinations again, to review all the case materials, the main part of which they demand to be translated into Russian.
The defendant's lawyers turned to the court with dozens of motions to summon all the witnesses, everyone involved in the case, choosing the tactic of delaying the case through procedural revisions. This is a sign that the defense is relying not on facts, but on procedural errors in an attempt to destroy the accusation in this way.
For example, the prosecution says: we have twelve anonymous witnesses. Then the defense demands to declassify the witnesses and submits a corresponding motion. It is examined by the investigating judge and dismissed, but it takes another month.
For the trial, the US military provided space images from which it is impossible to remove the secrecy. The pictures were transmitted through the channels of military intelligence to the Netherlands. In order not to classify the whole process, a detailed description was made, the so-called "memorandum". One of the referees, who has clearance, looked at the photographs. The pictures themselves remained secret and were not included in the case materials, but the memorandum is open and is in the materials. The sworn judge can testify that he has seen both the originals and their description and confirm the identity. Defense once again demands to request the United States to declassify the pictures. Obviously, what answer will be received, but the goal has been achieved - the process is being delayed, said the prosecution witness Vadim LUKASHEVICH.
- Do lawyers represent the interests of all the accused?
- Not. Four people are involved in the criminal case: Igor Girkin, Oleg Pulatov, Sergei Dubinsky and Leonid Kharchenko. Everyone, except Pulatov, refused to take part in the trial. One Pulatov participates, whose interests are represented by lawyers.
The prosecution would like to see Pulatov in the courtroom. But there are problems: if he comes to the Netherlands to testify, the question of immunity will arise. He needs guarantees that after testifying he will be able to return to Russia.
Pulatov is accused in his own case, and is a witness in the Dubinsky case. The prosecution gives Pulatov guarantees of immunity if he appears in court in the cases of other accused.
In addition, the prosecution asks the defense to determine the position of Pulatov, who does not admit his guilt.
There is a recording of the conversation where he says that he is standing next to the BUK. There is evidence that Pulatov was there when the plane was shot down. Pulatov claims that he is innocent. The defense has not yet decided what exactly their principal is innocent of. Surprisingly, the defenders have not yet met with their principal.
- Has the court granted the defense's motion?
- The court dismissed the main part of the petitions on the grounds that the defense must decide what it specifically refutes: if it refutes the version of the attack by the SU-25 attack aircraft, why is it filing petitions against the main version?
And if he is trying to refute the main version - the death of the MH-17 as a result of a shot from the BUK, why then question those who are related to the version of the explosion on board or the version of the attack aircraft? These are mutually exclusive versions. Therefore, the court granted the requests concerning the main version, and rejected those concerning the alternative versions.
- At the last meeting your name was mentioned. In connection with what did you interest the lawyers of the accused?
- On August 20, my article was published in a Dutch newspaper in which I talked about the fact that I was attracted by the JIT investigation team. It was not clear to the defense what I was asked as a witness, so they asked the prosecutor's office why and on what issues they were listening to the aviation expert Vadim Lukashevich.
My position is this: yes, I was really attracted by the investigation on issues of interest to them. When I am asked what questions I was asked, I am not talking about any specifics. He did not tell our media or the Dutch. This is the secret of the investigation.
I have always emphasized that I am a witness in the case. But - not a witness in court. Back in 2016, JIT held its first press conference. At that time, more than 200 people had already been interviewed. All interviewees have the status of witnesses. Any information that can help the investigation is formalized legally as a survey of a witness. But only those who can confirm the position of the accusation against the four accused, that is, those who are involved in the event or saw something, will speak at the trial.
- Did you get any technical questions?
- These were different questions. The request for protection does not change anything for their client. They are defending Oleg Pulatov, not all four of the accused. I can say that in none of the questions the Dutch investigators asked me did not hear the name Pulatov. I do not know what the Dutch prosecutor's office will answer to the request, but, for my part, I affirm: I did not discuss Pulatov's role during the testimony. Judging by the fact that they are hooked on me like a straw, their position is weak. This is such a shooting in the squares. Like in the game "Sea Battle"...
- All witnesses in the case are anonymous. Why did you talk about your participation in the investigation?
- I was also offered anonymity. If I had not performed anywhere, had not written a book, a two-volume book about the MH-17 tragedy, then it would have made sense to speak under a code that is assigned to witnesses. What is already hiding? Therefore, after thinking for a day, I decided to perform under my own name.
- Have you already written the book by that time?
- I already had a manuscript of three volumes ready. This manuscript contains everything that I dug, analyzed, systematized. I put this puzzle together and, as a specialist, made certain conclusions.
- What sources did you use?
- I had different sources. Ours, Dutch and Ukrainian. There are sources that I had to communicate with. These are people both in Russia and in Ukraine. They don't want to be named. Many of them are under a nondisclosure agreement and are afraid of losing their jobs. They talked to me, but I do not name them. As a specialist, I understand what is important and what is not. Everything is set out in the book. Therefore, when I went to the Dutch, I took the electronic manuscript with me. Therefore, answering questions, I could immediately show the necessary photographs and diagrams. With an indication of all primary sources. When I took out the flash drive, the investigators were very pleased. It turned out that I answer all the questions that were prepared for me. In the end, they asked me to give them everything. Later, when answering questions, I said which page of the manuscript contains the necessary information.
- Has the manuscript been added to the case?
- I do not know that. Rather, it is used to complement the answers to the questions asked to me. They were interested in the first two volumes. The third volume did not attract the attention of investigators at all.
- Is your book published in Russia?
- No, not yet published. We raise funds, because any publication requires not only the work of an author, but also a layout designer, an artist-designer, an editor ... All these works must be paid, you must pay a printing house and buy paper. In fact, we publish a two-volume edition by subscription. But on the cover of each volume there will be an inscription: "All materials used by the criminal investigation of the JIT." When they ask me what I talked about with the investigators, I answer: everything is in the book. True, I do not know which pieces were particularly interested in them.
- Let's get back to the court session. What questions were discussed at the last session?
- The defense has once again stated that it still cannot meet with its client. The delaying policy is already so obvious that the prosecutor recalled that he had passed the timetable of planes flying to Russia to the defense back in mid-August, and offered to give the addresses of the websites where tickets can be bought. The prosecution is already making fun of the lawyers.
At the previous meeting, the defense announced a desire to see the wreckage stored at a military base in the Netherlands. But in the two months that have passed since that moment, they have not been able to do this. According to them, they could not find an expert who could give them advice during the examination, since there was no specialist left who was not attracted by the prosecution. I think this is complete nonsense: the Netherlands has an air force, it has its own army. You can always find a person who will give explanations.
In addition, the defense stated that it was aware of the documents that were not included in the case, and demanded that the prosecution draw up a report on them. That is, go there, I don't know where. They were also interested in the witness, whose answers are in the case. They demanded to provide the questions that were asked to him and what information was given to this witness.
All this was before lunchtime. And in the second half of the meeting, for the first time, a representative of the victims' relatives received the floor.
I was struck by his words, which apply to all of us: “The most important thing for us is to establish the facts. The situation is aggravated by both military actions and a disinformation campaign from the Russian Federation. In addition to monetary compensation for relatives, it is also important to establish the facts, admit guilt and consequences for those responsible. Considering that Russian writers wrote so well about crimes and pangs of conscience, Russian disinformation looks wild to us".
A representative of the relatives said that the compensation they are seeking is more correct to call reparation, since it is the restoration of justice. The relatives of the victims are demanding reparations from the accused. Third party compensation does not work as it does not comply with the principle of fairness. Whoever is to blame must pay. It is interesting that compensation will be paid according to Ukrainian law.
The Dutch court, the criminal chamber of the District Court of The Hague, on the basis of the charge, can award payment to the relatives of the victims under Ukrainian law. The meeting discussed whether it was applicable. The court came to a positive conclusion. As far as I understand, it is impossible to apply the legislation of the Netherlands in this regard, since the tragedy did not occur in the Netherlands or with a Dutch plane, but on the territory of Ukraine. Ukrainian legislation is international, open, and there are agreements between the two countries on this matter. Therefore, the payments are awarded by a court created by sixteen countries, whose citizens were passengers of the deceased Boeing, according to the legislation of Ukraine.
Russia was asked to join this treaty, but our country refused. A spokesperson for the victims' relatives said that 76 people would make statements, 66 - directly in the courtroom, and 10 - in the form of a recorded video message. 127 people want to attach their written statements to the case. At the moment, 316 people have demanded compensation. But this is a preliminary number. In some national jurisdictions, brothers and sisters are not eligible for compensation. The relatives plan to start speaking after hearing the case on the merits. These speeches will take at least 8 court sessions.
The trial was expected to end in March 2021. It is now known that meetings are scheduled until November 2021, and the issue of compensation will be heard in court in September 2021.
Hearings will resume on 28 September 2020.